GESAC OPENING – WHY ARE WE WAITING IN SILENCE?

It is the 18th April, 2012, with only 12 days to go until May is upon us and still no definitive word about a GESAC opening date – not even a hint of the hoopla that will accompany the announcement.  Since this Council has decided to adopt a “say nothing policy” it is impossible to assess whether Council can “pull the rabbit out of hat” over the next 12 days.  In the past Council stated that the builder (Hansen Yuncken) is responsible for the delays.  Due to Council’s failure to provide information, the causes of the delays are unable to be determined, however, the responsibility to communicate GESAC progress to residents, ratepayers and GESAC members has always firmly rested with Council (Councillors and Administration).  GERA’s earlier posts on the GESAC delays clearly show that Council has abjectly failed to communicate.

At this month’s Council Meeting, GESAC progress was not raised (again), however, the following public question was raised and is recorded in the just published 10th April, 2012 Council Minutes (Public Questions – Section 11.4)

Would Council please advised (GERA typo correction) the date it expects GESAC facilities will be available for use by residents, members, ratepayers and the public? Will all facilities be available on this date or will the implementation be staged?.  If the implementation is to be staged, please advise which facilities will be available on which date. What works are required to be completed (and their timeline) to achieve the dates given in response to the above questions?” 

Jamie Hyams read out the following non-answer (no dates given, works not listed and no timeline provided)

“Based on information provided by the Builder Council expects to open the whole GESAC sometime in April.  The construction contract has not reached Practical Completion.  Council cannot open GESAC until that Practical Completion has been achieved, the plant has been commissioned and staff training has been completed.  Works are ongoing throughout the facility but principally in the aquatics area”

 GERA does not pretend to be in the construction industry but has learnt, from the  Victorian Department of Health and Safety website (scroll down – it provides succint info), that specific requirements for and the definition of what constitutes “practical completion” are included in each construction contract.  In general, lay terms “practical completion”

  • means that all works are complete, with the exception of minor omissions and defects which will not affect handover to, and occupation by, the Principal and facility users.  Minor omissions and defects are those that do not restrict the facility being used for its intended purpose or require facility closure for restorative works.
  • does not relieve the contractor from the need to rectify minor omissions and defects in a timely manner, and it is important that progress on rectifying omissions and defects is closely monitored.
  • a Certificate of Occupation is issued.
  • defines the contractual end date for the contractor’s liability for liquidated damages or the Principal’s liability for prolongation costs

Given the persistent silence of Council, the above response to the public question asked and the outline of  “practical completion”, indicate that the situation, as at 10th April, 2012, is

  • the omissions and defects in GESAC are such that they prevent the facility from being used for its intended purpose and/or closure for restorative works may be required.  Hence the auspices for “sometime in April” are not looking good.
  • ambiguous.  On practical completion, is all commissioning and staff training to commence or is some already being undertaken.  (Compare the above response to the Glen Eira News, April 2012 which indicates commissioning and fitting out has and is occurring).  If commissioning and staff training is all to occur after practical completion, then the “sometime in April” auspices begin to look even worse.
  • based on the first sentence in Council’s response, it appears Council will  again point the finger at the  builder rather than admit any short comings on the part of the oversight committee (i.e. Crs. Lipshutz, Esakoff and Magee, the CEO Newton and Major Projects Admin Officers Judge and Snell).   5 months after scheduled opening date and no precise opening date determined falls way short of residents demands and managerial expectations.

In addition, Council should also note that an integral element in any financially successful business (lets face it,  if GESAC is to be the success that Council claims it will be it has to be run as a business) is goodwill.  Existing customers (GESAC members) and potential customers (ratepayers/residents) are opting away from GESAC – the lack of frustration and certainty offered by competitors is very appealing.  Council’s “say nothing policy” is fostering anything but goodwill – existing and potential customers are being treated as if they are less than mushrooms (it may be “BS” but at least mushrooms get fed).

While those Councillors and Senior Administrative Officers directly involved in the GESAC project oversight should be directly held accountable for an utter breakdown in communication and failed project delivery (on time is shot and under budget is beginning to look ill) they are not the only ones who should be held accountable.  There are 6* other Councillors (Hyams, Tang, Pilling, Forge, Penhalluriack and Lobo) who have unquestioningly accepted what was said/presented (despite residents objections) and who are still refraining from questioning.

* There is one possible exclusion to this 6 and that is Cr. Penhalluriack.  In July/August, 2011, Penhalluriack, in an open Council Meeting, criticised the presented Minutes of the Pools Steering Committee (PSC) as being headings only and, therefore, uninformative.  Penhalluriack also went on to say that his repeated requests to exercise his right as a Cr. to attend PSC meetings, as an observer, had been thwarted by receiving notifications of PSC Meetings after the meeting was held.   Since July/August, 2011, Cr. Penhalluriack has not raised any GESAC issues in open Council Meetings.

Footnote:  Council’s, GESAC’s website and GESAC Facebook page were last updated on 27/28th March, 2012.

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